Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years


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WORDSWORTH, William. Poems, Chiefly of Early and Late Years; including The Borderers, A Tragedy. London: Edward Moxon, 1842. Small octavo, original dark brown cloth rebacked with original spine laid down, later pastedowns and fly-leaves, original free endpapers. Housed in custom half morocco clamshell box.

First edition, inscribed by the poet on the title page, “Inscribed by Wm. Wordsworth, Rydal, July 4th, 1842,” an association copy also signed by poet and playwright Sir Henry Taylor, the friend of Wordsworth who introduced him to the important friend of his later years, Isabella Fenwick.

Published the year before he was named Poet Laureate, Wordsworth's last discrete book of verse includes "Guilt and Sorrow," "Memorials of a Tour in Italy," "Sonnets Upon the Punishment of Death" and his only play, the tragedy in verse The Borderers. With alternative title page and half title at rear, presenting the book as Volume VII of the 1836-37 collected works (previously complete in six volumes). Broughton 73. Lowndes, 2993. Also signed on the title page by George Taylor, and on the front free endpaper by his son, Henry Taylor. The reclusive gentleman farmer George Taylor (1772-1851) possessed a strong literary bent, educating his sons at home by means of his extensive library. He was an ardent admirer of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, and was admired in turn by Robert Southey (who said Taylor had the "better part of an antique Roman about him"). Poet and playwright Sir Henry Taylor (1800-86), George's third son, is best known as the author of Philip Van Artevalde as well as for his work in the Colonial Office as senior clerk for the Caribbean colonies. He was on familiar terms with many of the day's leading literary figures, including Samuel Rogers, Thomas Carlyle and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Well acquainted with John Stuart Mill and the Benthamites, he invited them to personal meetings with his two close friends, Southey and Wordsworth. He also likely introduced his relative Isabella Fenwick (cousin of George Taylor's second wife) to Wordsworth around 1830. "She first signed the visitors' book at Rydal Mount in June 1831… She spent months at a time there as guest of the Wordsworths in subsequent years, and came to live in Ambleside in 1838 in order to be close to her friends at Rydal Mount" (Curtis, introduction, The Fenwick Notes of William Wordsworth, 18). Wordsworth also visited Fenwick as a respite from visitors seeking him at Rydal Mount, and allowed her to read his famous and still private Prelude in manuscript. Also with small, contemporary addressed envelope laid-in: the recto reads, "2 mementos / With a letter / Sir Henry Taylor / D.C.L. / K.C.M.G. / With greatest care," and the verso (on the flap) reads, "this to be preserved alone."

Interior generally clean. Minor loss to laid-down original spine, light wear to corners and lower edges. A very good inscribed association copy.

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